We caught up with DJ Junk to discuss his classic Junk Hardcore mix tape series, his early 90’s white label releases, UK hip hop and what he has in store next.
Like many of us who got into hardcore then drum and bass you come from a hip hop/breakbeat/graffiti background. What was your path into discovering rave culture?
I was surrounded by the rave scene. I was hearing hip house and rave stuff in the clubs in 89, I liked the sound. My dad had a bar and we had rave nights in the basement there, next door was a rave club and I used to go there, it was all around me. It got big in Bournemouth in 1990 and that’s when I started buying the records and DJing that stuff although I had been DJing since 88 playing hip hop.
UK Hip Hop acts like Hardnoise and Hijack helped define early hardcore, it was a great time to see British acts forge a new sound instead of trying to simply replicate Brooklyn. What influence do you think those originators had?
I think UK hip hop influenced early rave a lot, stacks of the breaks were sampled from hip hop records rather than the originals. Hardnoise and Hijack were sampled loads, not just the breaks but the scratches and vocals, UK hip hop was very intense and that sound crossed over into early jungle. I sampled Hardnoise on my early 12’s.
I first heard about you back in 92 through your Junk Hardcore series. You produced this very distinctive and long running collection of mix tapes that are known for their graffiti covers and for featuring white label obscurities along side some of the bigger tracks from the time. Can you tell us about these tapes? How did you record and distribute them?
The Junk tapes kind of started by accident, in 1991 I was buying rave records quite a lot and mixing them up on the decks. I made a tape, ran off some copies and gave them to the local record shop to sell… not really expecting them to. A few weeks later I bumped into the shop owner who said that all the tapes had sold and could he have more. This was a surprise so I gave him more and they kept selling. I looked for other shops to sell them through and built it up into a business, by 1992 the tapes were everywhere on the South Coast, in loads of shops from Bridport and Bristol all the way through to Brighton and Romford. I had other people doing the tape runs as well as myself, it was a full on operation. I would drive or get the train to the shops, pick up the money for the ones that had sold and re-stock. They sold loads until the big rave tape packs came out but I was before these. The money I made would go towards buying more tunes, I’d then make more volumes and buy more tape decks to copy them with, it was all done at home. I also sold the tapes outside raves at the end of the night.
I got my tunes at the same time as travelling doing the tapes. I would go to London every Saturday selling tapes in Oxford Street and Carnaby Street dodging the police then afterwards I’d go record shopping. I would get loads of underground white labels.
You were also producing during the early nineties and put out a series of white labels. Junk 6 contains an often overlooked classic that was spun by Bukem most notably at The Edge. It has phased amens and a mystical chord progression that stands up with the greats. How were these tracks produced and what equipment did you have?
All the Junk records were made on an Atari 1040 running Cubase and an Akai S950 sampler. Some of the tracks were run through a mixing desk to master and others were straight out the Akai. I didn’t have a desk at home so I would have to go to a studio to use one. I did some of my stuff in the studio with Tone Def who were on Moving Shadow, they taught me how to use the equipment.
Do you have any favourite productions?
Favourite ones are Junk 4, Do It, Junk 6 Remix , Keep Climbing , Timestretch The Dope Amen Brother and Synergy.
Some of your original releases are being repressed alongside some unreleased tracks from back in the day. How did that come about?
I reissued the Junk Hardcore album I did myself in 2002, I pressed it and sold it directly to shops, online and through distribution companies. Junk 8 was arranged by Robin Allinson who reissues lots of different releases. He approached me and I said yes put it out. I’ve got a new EP out soon with Simon Demetriou on his label Spandangle Selection, a remix of Do It and three tracks from 93, 94 and 96. George (Amen Mix) is on the new EP alongside Babylon and 45 King, both are mad dark jungle. I got more unreleased stuff to come out in the future as well.
Finally, graffiti and breakbeats are obviously very important to you and you’re a true B Boy through and through. Who were your graffiti inspirations and what are some of your favourite breaks?
Graffiti influences were the Chrome Angelz. Favourite breaks…?? I got too many to mention now! There are literally thousands of breaks out there. I have hundreds of killers, many have not been used before me…
So whats next for DJ Junk?
More unreleased jungle tracks from 93-95 some time in the not so far future on vinyl. Back then I did lots of stuff that didn’t get pressed and it’s been nice to get some of it out like this new EP on Spandangle Selection and the Junk Hardcore LP. There’s still more left to bring out though.
As always, more B-Boy tracks, mix tapes, disco edits and remixes via Soundcloud and the B-Boy Tracks website. I’ve got a new website that I’m building up the content for but it’s already online called Disco Edits which is for house and break beat reworks of old soul / disco and boogie tracks, a genre that I’m very much into.
Keep an eye out for a photo gallery of Junks graffiti coming soon to the X-Files section of the site.